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Old Tapes Surface of Kavanaugh's Comments on Independent Counsel Role; Alleged Russian Agent Due in D.C. Court; ACLU Sues Trump Administration over Family Separations at Border; Google Faces Another Fine by E.U.; Thai Soccer Team Speaks Out about Rescue. Aired 11:30- 12p ET

Aired July 18, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:42] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This just in, old tapes shedding new light on President Trump's Supreme Court pick. Tapes from a panel discussion with Brett Kavanaugh, Judge Brett Kavanaugh back in 2016 may now be front and center when he faces questions from Senators deciding his future, his comments about none other than the role of an independent counsel.

CNN's senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is live from Capitol Hill with much more on this.

Manu, what did you find?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A new video shows Judge Kavanaugh raising concerns about a three-decade old Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the independent counsel. This is raising questions because Judge Kavanaugh has separately raised concerns and skepticism about whether a sitting president can be indicted. Now the question is how he views investigations that are happening of a sitting president.

At issue here is a ruling called Morrison v. Olson from 1988. That ruling upheld the constitutionality of an independent counsel like Ken Starr who investigated President Clinton and who actually Judge Kavanaugh worked for, for four years. Now it is important to note there's a difference between independent counsel and a special counsel. There are different regulations that govern both. And a special counsel like Robert Mueller has to report up the Department of Justice, where the independent counsel reports more freely. However, regulations could be at risk for the special counsel if Kavanaugh had his way and overturned that ruling, namely whether or not Bob Mueller could be removed for anything beyond, quote, "good cause."

Now when Judge Kavanaugh was speaking to a conservative group two years ago, this is what he said.


JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I think justices of all stripes agree that stare decisis is important, but not an inexorable command. It is not inflexible, it is not absolute. And if it were, we would have some horrible decisions still on the books.

PAUL GIGOT, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Can you think of a case that deserves to be overturned?



GIGOT: Would you volunteer one?



GIGOT: Pending confirmation hearings. Yes, sir, right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

KAVANAUGH: Actually, I was going to say one, Morrison v. Olson.


GIGOT: That's the independent-counsel statute case.

KAVANAUGH: It's been effectively overruled, but I would put the final nail in.


RAJU: Given his hostility towards that ruling, there are a lot of questions about how he views the Mueller investigation and whether or not he believes the Mueller investigation is constitutional or the special counsel himself is constitutional, which would be significant if any issues arising from that investigation come before the Supreme Court and he's a justice and has to weigh in on it.

And already some Democrats, including Dick Durbin, raising concerns about this new video and saying they want to press Kavanaugh about his views.


SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D), ILLINOIS: I think we ought to make this a key part of the questioning of Brett Kavanaugh. Because he is seeking a spot on the Supreme Court at a moment in U.S. history where there are serious questions being raised about the accountability and responsibility of the president of the United States in many instances now. He has come down on the side of a strong executive who would somehow be protected from the ordinary investigation and prosecution that other Americans are subjected to.


[11:35:11] RAJU: After our story published earlier this morning, the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, expressed his concerns about this and also said that Judge Kavanaugh, if he's confirmed, needs to recuse himself from any matter involving the Mueller investigation.

But Republicans, not surprisingly, have a different reaction. I just talked to Ted Cruz, who said this Morrison ruling has been criticized for a very long time. He said history's not shown this in a very good light.

So Republicans not as worked up as Democrats but they still plan to make this a focus at his confirmation hearings -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. Just one more element of what is sure to be fiery hearings when they do begin.

Great to see you, Manu. Really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

We are getting breaking news coming in. More detail about the Russian woman accused of being an agent for Russia. Maria Butina is appearing in court in a short time from Washington. A grand jury indicted her yesterday.

CNN's Sara Murray is at the D.C. district court where Butina will appear.

Sara, what do we have?

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we just got new documents that I think are going to preview the fight we'll see in court today, which is a question about what to do about Maria Butina's detention. Prosecutors just put out a court filing in which they detail their belief that Maria Butina is an extreme flight risk. They go through her ties to Alexander Torshin, who is a prominent Russian official. They also say that she has ties to Russian intelligence in the allegations in this document. They say she was planning to move money abroad and that her lease ended in a Washington, D.C., apartment and she was already packing up to leave, and that's the reason they decided to move to arrest her. That is also the reason they say she should remain in jail. And they point out, given her ties, as they said, she is a Russian spy to the Russian government. If she were released, even on bail, she'd be able to go to some kind of diplomatic outpost and she would be able to claim essentially immunity there and there's nothing U.S. law enforcement could do.

It also goes on to document this relationship with an unnamed U.S. person, one previous filings have shown that to be a political operative. We know she had a long relationship over the course of many years with a political operative named Paul Erickson, from South Dakota. These documents, Kate, are scathing. They say this was a duplicitous relationship that Maria Butina was carrying on with Erickson. They cohabitated for a while. In papers seized by the FBI, Butina complained about having to live with this person. She expressed disdain for continuing to cohabitate with this person in the U.S. They're saying, look, the notion she was this man in the United States that she was romantically linked with is not something that was going to keep her here in the United States. That was all just part of her cover and, if we let her out, she'll flee the country.

We expect her lawyer to respond to that, perhaps in fiery tones today. He has said the charges against her are overblown, saying she's not a flight risk. He says the FBI came and searched her D.C. apartment back in April and, since then, she's continued to cooperate with investigators so there's no reason to believe she is, all of a sudden, going to leave.

But either way, we will see her here in court in a few short hours and we'll get a better sense what's going to happen to her and if she's going to have to remain in jail -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: More and more detail coming out. As you said, Sara, there's a lot more to come yesterday, and we're getting more today.

Great to see you. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, we'll hear from also the president of the of the United States any moment now. He is meeting with his cabinet in the White House. He'll be speaking to cameras. We will bring you his comments live.

We'll be right back.


[11:43:19] BOLDUAN: The Trump administration has one week to reunite all the migrant children ages 5 to 17 who have been separated by President Trump's zero-tolerance policy. This after the government already missed one deadline to reunite families of the youngest children. A federal judge just this week made a new move, temporarily blocking the government from deporting any of these families. That's temporarily.

Joining me now to figure out where things stand is the lead attorney suing the Trump administration over the family separation policy at the border, Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.

Lee, thank you so much for coming in.


BOLDUAN: It was just last week that you and I spoke. My big take- away, I think everybody's was, you didn't have a lot of information from the government.


BOLDUAN: There was still a breakdown of communication on where things stand.


BOLDUAN: So the government -- a week ago, the government still had not told you how many reunifications had occurred. Do you know now?

GELERNT: No. We still don't know. We know that 58 have occurred for children under 5.


GELERNT: We're thrilled about that but they missed the deadline and there's still there are many other children under 5 that have not been united. We don't know how many reunifications have occurred for children from 5 to 17. The judge has said he wants this to be transparency and he wants information. But moreover, I don't think the government knows fully what's going on. They have --

BOLDUAN: Have they admitted that yet?

GELERNT: They don't admit it in that way. But they do admit it in court with me the other day. They admitted 70 children they don't know the parent. I don't mean they don't know the last address or they haven't been able to reach them yet. They don't even know who the parent is. We also believe there are roughly 100 --

BOLDUAN: Wait, wait, wait.


BOLDUAN: How is that possible? In extreme cases, they're taking DNA samples. Did they not -- how?

[11:45:03] GELERNT: What I'm saying is they don't know here.

BOLDUAN: These are children who came over with a parent.

GELERNT: Exactly. They don't know who the parent is. It is not as if they know who the parent is --


BOLDUAN: And don't think it is an unqualified --

GELERNT: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: It's an unqualified parent.

GELERNT: Our understanding is there's 70. What I think happened is, they said, let's be as harsh as we can, take these children away. They never even thought about what happens if we have to reunite them. There was no tracking system.

BOLDUAN: Wait a second. They will have to answer this question to the judge.


BOLDUAN: Forget you. Not to be harsh. But they need to answer this to the judge. The judge is not accepting this.

GELERNT: Yes. I think that has been the critical development over the last week, which gives me hope that the reunifications will now occur. The judge made it very clear, these are not aspirational goals. These are firm deadlines. Rather than saying to the government, come back on the 26th, the ultimate deadline, and tell me --


GELERNT: -- I want you in court almost every day. I want you submitting stuff every day. I want you giving the plaintiffs lists. That's our hope. But I still am concerned that the government doesn't have the information to give us.


BOLDUAN: There's more than 2,000 -- we're talking 5 to 17 --


BOLDUAN: -- there's more than 2,000 kids.

GELERNT: Twenty-five-hundred, right.

BOLDUAN: They need to be reunited by next week.

GELERNT: Right, the 26th.

BOLDUAN: They blew past the last deadline.


BOLDUAN: I assume you have zero confidence they'll be able to meet this deadline?

GELERNT: You know, I feel like I need to keep up hope. I'm hopeful the judge is going to stay on top of them and they'll do it. I don't think they'll find all the parents by then, but at least for parents they know about, I hope they don't miss the deadline.

BOLDUAN: Have you decided on what you think penalty or remedy should be? The judge was looking to you for that.

GELERNT: Right. So what we ultimately decide is, we're not looking to be punitive for the sake of being punitive. All our remedies were tied to how can the process move quickly and constructively. So that's what we said. More updates, regular updates. The government pushed back and said, no, we think less updates. That's where I think the real dispute is. And I think that's where the judge said, no, no, no, there has to be transparency --


BOLDUAN: The head-scratching on this has now become like heads banging on the wall.


BOLDUAN: I just don't understand how they can't give you numbers, and now they can't find parents. Lee, I'm now going to require more updates from you because we're not

getting updates from the government so we'll have you back on.

I appreciate your time.

GELERNT: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Lee. I really appreciate it.

More breaking news this morning. Google could be facing another massive fine. The European Union wants the company to pay $5 billion for unfairly pushing its app on Smartphone users. How will Google respond? And how painful will that fine be?

CNN business correspondent, Zain Asher, is live from the New York Stock Exchange with this.

Zain, what are you hearing?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Right. So this is the largest fine -- to put it in context for you, Kate -- this is the largest fine ever imposed in terms of the European Commission's history. We're talking about $5 billion. That represents about 40 percent of Alphabet's total profits in one year. You can bet your bottom dollar that Google is not going to give up without a fight. They issued a statement -- if we can put it up on the screen -- saying, "Android" -- their operating system -- "has created more choice for everybody, not less. We will appeal. We will appeal the commissioner's decision."

In terms of how we got started here, the E.U. is basically saying that Google unfairly requires Smartphone makers that use the Android operating system to preinstall their product, so products like Google Search, Google Chrome, for example, as a prerequisite for being able to use Google Play. That's their app store. They also have given Google 90 days to fix the problem or else pay more penalties.

When you look at what Alphabet shares are doing, investors don't seem to be that fazed. Alphabet shares only down about .5 percent -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: We'll see what the fallout continues to be.

Zain, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, they call it a miracle. You can call whatever you want. It's a straight-up miracle. The boys on the Thai soccer team rescued from the cave in Thailand are speaking out for the first time since the rescue and recovery. We'll take you live to Thailand.


[11:53:27] BOLDUAN: They had no food, they sustained on rain water dripping through the rocks, and at least one was worried he was going to get in trouble with his mom. These are some of the stories we're hearing from the boys on the Thai soccer team who were rescued last week from the flooded cave. And a miracle, an amazing feat of teamwork, all of it together.

Today, they left the hospital and held their first public appearance. Here's what one boy said about that moment when rescuers popped up from the water.


UNIDENTIFIED BOY (through translation): When they got out from the water, I was a little surprised so I just greeted them. I thought, this is really a miracle, and I didn't know how to respond to them.


BOLDUAN: Reporter Jonathan Miller is joining me.

Jonathan, you were there throughout the ordeal, throughout the search and rescue, and you are there for the news conference today. Just amazing moments.

JONATHAN MILLER, ASIA CORRESPONDENT: It has been a really amazing story to cover, Kate. To have been here, you know, just 10 days ago when the whole world was holding its breath and thinking, oh, my goodness, are they ever going to make it out? Even the Thai Navy SEALs admitted tonight that they thought it would be impossible to dive these boys out.

Tonight, they were there alive and kicking, the Wild Boar football team, and telling their remarkable stories of camaraderie and survival. The coach told about the moment they got trapped, how they had tried to get back the way they came when they saw the water level rising because it had been raining during the time they'd been in the cavern system and the waters rose and rose and they eventually realized some of the tunnels they'd come through had been completely submerged and they were stuck. So they went back to sit on a ledge and watch that water level rise and finally it stabilized and there they sat for 10 days.

[11:55:21] BOLDUAN: All right. Jonathan, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you for your coverage.

Coming up for us, right now, the president is meeting with his cabinet. He's also speaking with reporters. We'll get that tape. We're going to play it for you as soon as it comes in. Stay with us.